Fetal Center Reunion

For the first time in my life, I have a 19 month old toddler and I am not pregnant. With all four of my other children by the time they were one and a half I was already pregnant with their younger sibling. As Callum grows it feels bizarre not to be growing as well with his younger sibling inside. There is a little bit of sadness but mostly a delicious freedom and ease to life, yes even with four kids. To be able to chase Callum or deal with a toddler melt down without fighting back nausea is such a relief. It makes this stage so much easier as a parent. I am enjoying my four kids so much and savoring the absence of emergency in our lives. I love having my body all to myself and being able to sleep through most nights without tending to a baby.

Our baby Callum is doing well and growing so fast. He was a late walker like Nora, but their personalities are more laid back so I’m guessing that is the reason they walked later than their big brothers. Liam walked at 11 months, Asher walked at 8-9 months, Nora walked at 14 months and Callum was 16 months. It’s fun to have all four kids now on their feet and somewhat independent. I am loving this stage of life with the chaos and the sweetness and the hilarity of young children.

In April we drove to Houston for the Fetal Center Reunion and it was a quick but wonderful trip. The last time we were in Houston was when Nora was a newborn. She was only about 4 days old when Josh and I woke up in the early morning hours in 2015, packed up our room at the Ronald McDonald House and drove out of the city towards Alabama. As we left, the sun was coming up and I looked in my rear view mirror at the city doused in morning light and I cried happy tears of disbelief. We had done it. God had done it. Nora was alive and I felt such a surge of love for the city of Houston, for all the miraculous things that had taken place there. So now to be back in Houston with bubbly Nora who never stopped talking the entire trip was very surreal and special. We stayed at an Air B&B in the medical district and visited some of our favorite places in the area. Again, it was surreal to be in these places where I had experienced such emotional turmoil four years prior, completely desperate for my baby girl’s survival. Now here she was playing with her brothers in the same spot, completely healthy and very much alive. I will never get over the miracle of her life and I will never stop telling of the wondrous things God did for us. He is such a faithful loving God, patient and kind and trustworthy. I truly have no good apart from Him.

Here are some pictures of Nora playing in the park in front of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital where she was born:

At the Fetal Center Reunion we got to see Dr. Moise and many of the other doctors and nurses who treated us during my pregnancy. I saw some of the women who coordinated my care during my pregnancy with Nora and some of the nurses and ultrasound technicians who monitored Nora every week in the womb and assisted during her intrauterine blood transfusions. All of these amazing people worked together to save Nora’s life and to see them all together again was so special to me. My gratitude overflowed. I’m actually tearing up right now typing this because these people mean so much to our family. It really did feel like a family reunion. They were all so sweet and happy to see Nora. Nora was excited to finally “meet” Dr. Moise (even though he had already met her when she was a baby obviously) and Callum loved Dr. Moise too even though he had no idea who he was. I loved seeing Callum with his namesake and Nora with her hero.

I also got to finally meet one of my most dearly loved fellow “ISO moms” Brittany Pineda. She reached out to me several years ago when she was pregnant with her son, Kristian, in her first known ISO pregnancy (anti-D.) I grieved and still grieve with her over the loss of her baby Kristian after his first IUT and encouraged her to try again for her rainbow baby. Long story short, she traveled to Houston for her treatment with her second son and Dr. Moise performed his earliest IUT on Brittany’s baby at 15 weeks. I think that week shaved about ten years off my life I was so anxious. Her miracle baby, Mikah Kristian Joseph was born after 9 IUTs and is now a healthy toddler. Brittany has always been such an inspiration to me and she encouraged me throughout my pregnancy with Callum too. Now our miracle boys share a middle name, Joseph, after our hero Dr. Moise. You can read more about Brittany’s story here in the Fetal Center Newsletter fetalnewsletter-1.pdf

After all of our history together, Brittany and I had never met in person outside of our cellphones. It was amazing to see her and her family face to face finally! Of course we both had to spend most of our time chasing after our toddlers but we got a little conversation in here and there. Here are a few pictures of our families together with Dr. Moise and at the Fetal Center Reunion:

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Callum kept waving at Dr. Moise

Rainbow babies Nora and Mikah, 14 IUTs between the two of them at the Fetal Center:

It was really hard to get a picture of these two together since they NEVER stopped moving! Our boys, Callum Joseph Thomas and Mikah Kristian Joseph:

And of course our favorite part of Houston is always the Korean food:

 

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Hard Conversations

Our little rainbow baby, Nora, is now almost three and a half years old. She is in that shifty space between baby and kid where one minute she is using words like “consequence” and “incredible” in complex sentences and the next minute she is shouting for Mommy to come wipe her butt after a good poo. It’s amazing to watch her grow and transform into the person she will be. She is so different from her brothers; another species entirely. At her age they were reading independently and constantly trying to run over the edges of tall things. The boys would spend hours every day constructing train tracks and creating deadly train crashes along the way. Nora doesn’t care about reading because she can just make up the story herself if there isn’t an adult around to read it to her. She spends most of her day thinking about princesses, making up dances and songs, and caring for her baby dolls. She loves being in charge, taking care of people’s needs and feeling romantic.

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Parenting a three year old is both fun and exhausting because your child can now verbalize her thoughts about the world which means there is an endless stream of words and questions flowing out of her mouth. We laugh every day at something hilarious and ridiculous that Nora has said and we die from the cuteness too. She recently started telling us that she loves us and she uses it to her advantage when she doesn’t like our decision about something. “Nora, I have to go to work now.” says her Daddy. “But Daddy, you can’t go to work because I love you.” “Nora, it’s time to take a nap.” “But, I love you so much. I can’t take a nap.”

Nora is also very aware that she has a sister named Lucy who isn’t here with us but is still a very important part of our family. For Liam and Asher it comes naturally to include Lucy in most things, which still amazes me and feels like balm to my heart. When counting how many girls vs. boys in the family, Lucy is always counted. For projects at school they include Lucy in their family description most of the time. At Christmas we always hang Lucy’s golden stocking right there where it should be between Asher and Nora’s stockings. And our family ornaments always include Lucy’s name. But this Christmas Nora asked a lot of new questions that were painful and difficult to answer. “But how is Lucy going to open her stocking on Christmas if it is here? Will she be here in our house on Christmas? I want her to have her stocking. Can we give it to her?” And none of my explanations felt adequate. Recently, Nora noticed a little drawing taped on the wall in her room. It has been there ever since she was a newborn. Soon after we brought her home from Houston, Asher drew a special family picture for Nora and insisted we tape it on her wall for her to look at.

It includes Daddy, Mommy, Liam and Asher holding his baby Nora. Up in the sky, is Lucy, looking out of the window of her mansion in heaven, smiling. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking. Lucy is included as a natural part of our family but the separation is clearly illustrated. All of us down here together. Lucy up there in heaven. So Nora asked about the picture on the wall and I pointed everyone out and explained it to her and she loved it. But of course, she had lots of hard questions.

Nora notices more and more how the big brothers play together so effortlessly without her in the scenario. I mean, it only makes sense that she would not want to be part of their conversations about Fortnite or the imaginary Civil War battle they are meticulously planning out, casualties and all. But she can’t understand why they don’t want to play Barbie princesses with her or act out the Cinderella ball scene over and over again. In those moments I ache so deeply for Nora to have her five year old sister here with her. I can see the hours of fun they would have playing together every day, an easy friendship built into the family. My whole childhood was a never ending play date with my sister Kristin, who is 22 months younger than me. We didn’t even call each other by name. We called each other “friend” because we somehow knew that being friends was extra special. A person doesn’t have a choice about who her sister is, but she does get to choose who her friends are. And Kristin and I wanted everyone to know that we had chosen to be friends. We weren’t just sisters. Nora would LOVE to have a five year old sister friend, even for just one day. How many days of joy and friendship are missed? Years of friendship gone. A lifetime with her sister gone. And it’s hard for me not to let the bitterness take over as I think about the doctors at UAB with their careless mistakes and I want to ask them, “Do you know how many years of friendship have been lost because of your pride? Nora’s only sister, dead, because you couldn’t take ten minutes out of your busy day to check Lucy for anemia when I begged you to.” I forgive the doctors at UAB multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day, and I ask God to give me compassion for them. Thank God for the power He gives me to forgive and to love the people who are hardest to love. Without Him I would be drowning in my bitterness.

This past week Nora randomly said to me, “Mommy, I really miss Lucy and I really want her to come here.” It stopped me in my tracks. “I know, I miss her too and I really wish she could be here too.” I said. “But I want her to be here in my house and play with me. And I miss Lucy and you miss Lucy but Callum doesn’t miss her and Asher doesn’t miss her and Liam doesn’t miss her and Daddy doesn’t miss her like we do.” she said. I knew what she was trying to express, that the boys don’t miss Lucy like we do because they have each other. I told her that the boys do miss Lucy as much as we do, except for maybe Callum because he doesn’t know about her yet. “Why doesn’t Callum know about her?” she asked. “Well, he’s too little to understand and it’s hard to explain it to him, but when he gets older he will know who Lucy is.” “Will she come here tomorrow? To our house? Or maybe the next day?” Nora asks hopefully, and my heart sinks. This is the worst. “No, she’s not coming here.” “But maybe she can come later? To our house? And she can stay at our house.” Nora pushes. “I’m sorry baby, but she can’t come to our house because she is in heaven. But we can see her when we go to heaven.” I say, trying to steady my voice. “Oh!” she says, “so how do we go there? Where do we go through? Where’s the door?” “Well, we can’t go there until after we die.” I say slowly. Nora instantly looks horrified. “I don’t want to die!” Oh, now we are spiraling into uncharted territory. I don’t know what to say to my sweet little three year about the horrors of this world we live in. But I have to tell the truth so I say, “Everyone is going to die one day, but if you love God, after you die you can live in heaven forever. And it is going to be so wonderful.” “But I don’t want to die.” she repeats, looking up at me with her giant worried eyes. “I know, and you don’t have to worry about that at all right now.” I say, not exactly sure how to reassure her. “Will Lucy show me her toys when I get to heaven?” she asks and I feel relieved that we are now onto toys as opposed to inescapable death. Finally she lets me change the subject but I am shaken, and the rest of the day I feel desperately sad.

A couple days later as I was getting Nora ready for preschool she nonchalantly asked me, “When am I going to die?” and here we go again. Even though Nora’s questions are heartbreaking for me and difficult to answer, they remind me of how thankful I am that I do have the answers, even if they might be too complex for Nora to understand at the moment.

People die and kids grow up and everything changes but God remains the same. He never changes. He is constant and trustworthy and His love for us never changes. He is our anchor. He even conquered death so really, for those who know God, death is only moving from this place to our real home. Lucy is home and I wonder if she asks God, “Can Nora come to our house and stay? Will she come here tomorrow? To our house? Or maybe the next day?” And He says that the wait will feel like the blink of an eye and before Lucy knows it her family will be home forever. Together. And the most beautiful, comforting thing is that God does not leave us here to flounder in grief while we wait. He is here with us, filling in the gaps where we ache, where dreams are unfulfilled and people are missing. God can be our fulfillment, our strength, our peace, our joy. So maybe Nora has to wait until heaven to have a sister, but she can have other meaningful relationships here and she can have peace, joy and fulfillment through the God who never leaves or changes.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Happy Birthday Nora Juliet!

Today our beautiful Nora is three years old. Usually as my kids grow from baby to big kid I grieve the swift passing of childhood, but after our experience of losing Lucy and fighting for Nora and Callum I feel differently as my kids grow. I savor it all like never before and the baby days gone by are celebrated because they WERE. Nora isn’t just a longing or a dream. She is our beautiful reality and we are loving every minute, every day, every year and every milestone we get with her.

Nora is shifting from toddler to preschooler and is growing in so many ways. She is completely potty trained, has stopped using her pacifier, she sleeps in her big girl bed every night and she can get herself dressed, but she still drinks her milk from a bottle, heated up to breast milk temperature 🙈 All of her other drinks are given in a normal cup or sippy cup. Nora is still the most maternal child I’ve ever encountered. Her favorite toys are baby dolls and her birthday party is going to be a baby doll birthday party, of course. Her favorite baby to take care of is her baby Callum. Every morning when she wakes up she immediately asks, “Where’s Callum?” and he is the first person she wants to see. She tries to feed him, change him, boss him, teach him, protect him and play with him every day. It heals my soul to watch their friendship blossom.

Just as the grief for a missing child resurfaces multiple times a day, so the gratitude for my Nora bubbles to the surface again and again and I drink in her life and her light. Not only do I rejoice at knowing all the little details of her unique personality, but I also relish the fact that I get to raise a girl, my daughter. I get to buy dresses and baby dolls and I get to sign Nora up for ballet lessons this fall. I get to throw a little girl birthday party with pink, sparkly decorations and rainbows and baby dolls. I get to do all the things I dreamed about doing with my daughter and there is still a whole future of possibilities I look forward too. I can’t wait to read my favorite childhood books with her soon…Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Women, Junie B Jones, and so many more. I just love being Nora’s Mommy and I cannot express how she has enriched our lives over the past three years. We love her so much. Happy birthday beautiful girl 💜

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Life Lately

It has been a while since I’ve updated the blog! Usually I am faced with the choice to either neglect the blog post I want to write, or neglect my kids and of course, my kids will always win in that situation. But I do desperately want to keep blogging. I still have so much to say. Part of me is super frustrated that I don’t have time to write lately but another part of me loves the fact that I’m so busy taking care of my babies that I don’t have time for anything else. I’ve also been working more (teaching English to German kids) so that leaves me with even less free time to write, but I am loving my job so much! Hopefully as Callum gets older and more independent and when Nora starts preschool in the fall I can have more time to write.

I feel like the last couple of posts have been kind of heavy so I would like to just do a normal life update. Callum is six months, almost seven months old already! He is such a sweet baby and is always super happy if he isn’t having reflux/tummy problems. His reflux and food intolerances have dominated our lives for the past several months. After a lot of trial and error and sleepless nights we now know that he reacts to dairy, soy, gluten, beef, tomatoes, peppers, oats and mint. I have cut all of those things out of my diet (Callum is breastfed) and he is now so much happier. He has an appointment with a pediatric allergist this coming week to do some tests and figure out exactly what he can and can’t eat, now that we are introducing solids. We also finally found the right medication for his acid reflux (Nexium) and it is helping a lot. Before we made those changes Callum would scream in pain and have very painful reflux. He spit up constantly and could never lie flat on his back because the acid would immediately come up his throat and hurt him. Diaper changes were painful because we had to lay him flat on the changing table and he would always end up screaming and choking through the diaper change. He also slept in a Rock and Play for the first six months because it kept his head elevated. Now we are finally able to lay him down in his bed, flat on his back. It is making our lives so much easier! Besides all of that, Callum is very healthy and meeting all of his milestones. He can roll over and is trying to sit on his own but still can’t balance well enough. He laughs and babbles and coos and LOVES eye contact. His eyes follow me around the room and he waits patiently for me to look his way, desperate for eye contact and a smile. His entire face lights up when I look at him or talk to him. I am his world. Almost every time he does that I think of Lucy in heaven. I wonder if she searches for me the way Callum does. I feel certain that when I arrive in heaven her eyes will find me and her face will light up like Callum’s does.

Nora is obsessed with Callum. She is only two but she can change his diaper and get him dressed. She feeds him and wipes his mouth and plays with him. Every morning as soon as she wakes up the first thing she asks me is, “Where’s Callum?” I prayed since she was born that God would give her a sibling friend and He answers those prayers daily in the sweetest way. I do have to be careful though, because Nora is still a two year old and it’s easy for me to forget that sometimes. I can’t really leave her alone with Callum for more than a minute or two. The other day she “gave him a bath” in A&D diaper ointment and then FED him the diaper ointment with a spoon while I was cooking dinner right around the corner. Here he is with shiny ointment hair (the picture doesn’t really do it justice):

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He can’t have dairy, wheat, soy, etc. but apparently he can handle A&D diaper ointment just fine!

Callum’s brothers also love him and think he is the best baby in the world. They adore him and thank God for him and kiss him constantly. It’s so wonderful to be in this time of healing and recuperation as a family. We were so worn down by all of the loss and the fear of trying again and the desperate need for another baby. The high risk pregnancies were also very stressful for our family. Now we can finally relax. Our house is overflowing with kids and toys and laughter. God is rebuilding our hearts slowly but surely and exchanging beauty for ashes. When I started this blog and named it Losing Lucy and Finding Hope we were in such a dark place that I wondered if I ever would actually find hope. And here we are five years later living in that hope that God promises. I am often overwhelmed with gratitude. Just holding my warm little baby feels like a miracle. I still can’t believe that I get to watch Nora grow up and I get to know all the little details of who she is. I whisper “thank you” to God countless times a day as I go about my tasks. I often have to stop myself from emailing or texting Dr. Moise and Dr. Trevett to thank them AGAIN for what they did for us. Ok, Callum just woke up from his nap so that’s all I get to write for today. Here are a few pictures from the past couple of weeks:

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Nora Turns Two and Baby Brother Keeps Fighting

On July 19th our beautiful Nora Juliet turned two years old! Her birthday will always feel miraculous and holy because it is the day God fulfilled so many promises He made to me when I was at my most broken place. It was the day that I did the “impossible”….I gave birth to a healthy, full term kell positive baby girl. God used her to bring light back into our darkness, to heal gaping wounds, to restore hope, to empower women all over the world not to give up. Nora will always be our reminder that God is indeed good, and He does love us. She is our reminder that God places our deepest desires in our hearts for a reason and we do ourselves an injustice if we ignore them, especially when He is calling us to step out in trust. I know that He has great plans for Nora’s life. Thank you, God, for giving me this daughter I can keep. We love her so much and have loved watching her develop and grow over the past two years. We praise you, for you have done gloriously.

Isaiah 12:5 Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

Now, a little bit about Nora (because I still marvel that we get to know her on earth and see her personality develop!) Nora is the darkest of our kids- dark brown eyes, darker skin tone and darker hair. As her hair grows longer and longer it gets curlier and curlier and she now has ringlet curls all over her head. She is super maternal and bossy and sweet. She will boss her brothers, her cousins, adults and animals, and I’m sure her baby brother will get it when he arrives too. She wants to take care of everybody. She is independent and loves to drink out of a normal cup, eat with utensils (ALWAYS) and help me unload the dishwasher. She speaks in full sentences and has an amazing vocabulary. At age two her brothers knew all of their letters and numbers but she only knows A, O, S and X. She’s much more interested in relationships than things like numbers or letters. Nora talks and sings constantly and makes up songs about things she’s thinking about or doing. Her favorite place to be is anywhere with people, especially friends and extended family. I think her favorite person on earth is “Manga” (how she says Grandmama) and they have a very sweet, special bond. I sometimes think this is because “Manga” was the one who came to Houston with me and lived in the Ronald McDonald House with us for months. Nora heard Manga’s voice in utero as much as she heard mine and so I think a special bond was formed. Often, Nora wants to go to Manga instead of me when she has he chance. Nora is our daily delight, making us laugh every few minutes. Seeing her with her Daddy is still one of my greatest joys because I ached for so long to see Josh with his own daughter in his arms. Her brothers adore her and I enjoy having a daughter so much. Thank you, God, for this gift.

Nora with her Manga

First train ride

First trip to the beach

Nora at 22 months, me at 22 weeks pregnant.

Exploring Hurricane Creek

Giving Daddy pats

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Baby boy is still doing well but his anemia continues to worsen gradually. His MCA scan this week (27w 2d) was the highest it’s been, at 1.39. Dr. Trevett really thinks next week will be the week that baby needs his first IUT but I’m not so sure. We tentatively scheduled the IUT for Monday but will rescan this Thursday (tomorrow) to see how baby looks. If he’s getting close to the 1.5 cutoff we will plan to have the IUT on Monday. But if baby’s numbers look about the same we will cancel Monday’s IUT. We still can’t believe we’ve made it this far without a transfusion! Baby looked great on ultrasound and is estimated to weigh 2 lbs 11 oz. Here are a few pictures of him from the past couple of weeks:


And here I am at 27 weeks, 4 days pregnant.

We are still struggling to come up with a name for this miracle boy of ours. Most of the names we like are pretty weird (Liam, Asher, Lucy and Nora were all the most “normal” names on our list at the time.) There are a lot of names that we kind of like, but none that we love. Hopefully we will come up with the perfect name soon. We just started getting things ready at home for our boy since we are feeling more confident that we will actually get to bring him home alive. We live in a small, three bedroom house so it is going to be a tight squeeze but we couldn’t be happier to have to fit our FOUR kids into our cozy little house. I never thought we would be able to have four living children! I will do my best to update the blog after my ultrasound (and four hour drive home) tomorrow. Please pray that baby’s numbers aren’t any higher and he gets another week without a transfusion.

Slightly Anemic

I’m now 25 weeks and 3 days pregnant and the baby is still doing well (poor little guy still doesn’t have a name though!) We are so very grateful to have made it this far without needing an IUT. My next appointment is on Monday when I’m 26 weeks and 2 days. At 26 weeks Nora was having her second intrauterine blood transfusion. Here are baby boy’s MCA scan numbers over the past few weeks:

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You can see that his numbers have gradually increased over the weeks but he is still staying well under the 1.5 cutoff. Right now he is probably slightly anemic but there are no other signs of trouble on his ultrasounds. His heart looks beautiful. Actually, all of his organs look beautiful (such a blessing) and there is no extra fluid anywhere. He is measuring about two weeks ahead and weighs almost 2 pounds. We are thrilled to see our boy do so well and we give God all the praise for this miracle.

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In the past couple of weeks we have finally started explaining to Nora that there is a baby brother in Mommy’s belly and that one day he will come home to stay. This is a huge leap of faith for me because we don’t actually know if he will come home or go to heaven, but lately we’ve been feeling more hopeful than ever that he will survive, so we let the secret out. I’m also HUGE and Nora was starting to wonder what was going on with Mommy’s weird body. I just remember so vividly trying to explain to 2 year old Asher that baby Lucy wasn’t going to come home like we had said and that she had gone to heaven instead. It was terrible and it was so hard for him to wrap his little mind around the concept. I wanted to protect Nora from feeling that loss if her baby brother died so I waited much longer to tell her about the pregnancy than the boys (they knew as soon as I came home with a permacath sticking out of my chest at 10 weeks.) Nora is SO excited about her baby brother and talks about all the things she wants to do with him. In fact, we sat on my bed two nights ago, just Nora and me, having a real heart to heart conversation for the first time. We talked all about the baby and the fun things she would get to do with him once he gets here. It was so special because I felt this sweet connection to my daughter, like we were friends, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I found out that I would have a daughter I could keep. Anyway, Nora told me she was going to rock her baby brother, sing to him (she sang me the song she made up for him), put his socks and hat on him, give him milk, give him a bath and when he falls asleep she will shout, “Wake up beebee!” so he can be awake with her (we’ll have to work on that last part.) She also said we should name him “Beebee Callum.” Goodness, she has a lot of ideas and plans for a baby she hasn’t even met yet. With each adorable proclamation of hers my heart trembled and I prayed, “Oh Lord, let it be. Let her hold him and sing her special song to him and even wake him up when hes’ napping, I don’t mind. Please let us experience life with our boy.”

Please continue to pray for our son, that God would strengthen him in this fight for life and protect him from harm. Please pray that Nora will get to be a big sister and meet her baby brother alive one day this fall. I will try to do a better job of updating the blog more frequently. Usually, no news is good news, though!

Another Baby?

 

I have started this blog post and then erased it several times. It’s a sensitive subject, growing your family, adding a baby, especially when you already have three and your pregnancies are extremely high risk. After losing a baby it can feel even more delicate and precarious to discuss pregnancy, child birth, number of children, sibling ages, age gaps and growing your family. Unfortunately many people feel compelled to share their opinions about whether other families should add another baby or stop having babies, especially when it comes to high risk pregnancies or large families. I erased and rewrote this blog post so many times because it is hard to find the right words and to express what is on my heart. We want another baby. We know God wants us to try again. Yes, the next baby could be in a lot of danger in my womb. Yes, we are afraid, but also confident that this is what God wants us to do. I don’t want this post to sound like I’m apologizing for my decision to add another baby to our family. I don’t feel like I have to defend my choice to try again. I don’t owe an explanation to anyone regarding my private decisions about family planning and trying to conceive. BUT, on the other hand, I like being open about this journey. I like sharing my story with all of you and my hope is to be the encouragement that another parent needs when they are struggling with their own family planning decisions. I want others to be inspired not to give up on their dreams of a living child, or a big family or a rainbow baby. I also need your prayers and your support and so I invite you to come on this journey with us to hopefully bring our final baby home.

2016 was the first time I’ve gone an entire year without being pregnant once since 2007. After months and months of prayer we have decided that 2017 is the year that we try for earth baby number four, our last baby. We always wanted at least five children but after developing anti-kell antibodies and losing Lucy we thought that dream was shattered. We mourned the loss of our ability to have more babies as deeply as the loss of our daughter. It was such a sad, hopeless time in our lives. But when Nora was born healthy we realized that we had found the right doctor and the right treatments that worked for us. Even though we can never get our Lucy back on this earth, it was an amazing feeling to realize that our dead dreams of growing our family had been resurrected and maybe, just maybe, we COULD have the big family we always wanted. God has reshaped our hearts and changed our dream of five kids to a dream of four kids. We desperately want Nora to have a sibling friend close in age. We want four kids around the table at Thanksgiving dinner when they are all grown up. We would love for Nora to have a sister on earth, but we know that is up to God. We also know that if we don’t try for this one last baby, we will regret it for the rest of our lives. I knew even while I was pregnant with Nora that I would want one more after her if she survived. I knew God was planting a seed in my heart and growing it for a purpose.

Are we afraid? Of course we are scared, but we trust God wholeheartedly and we trust His proddings and nudgings. We trust in His plan for our lives. Does this mean God will give us a healthy, living baby next? I have no idea. It is completely possible for God to call me to try again and then for me to step out in faith, get pregnant and lose the baby. God is God and I am not. I don’t always understand His decisions. But now, more than ever in my life, I trust Him and I feel excited about what He has waiting for me in my future. And who am I to limit God to a certain number of miracles in my life? If He calls me out upon the water, I will follow just like always. And I know the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end and neither do His miracles.

Job 5:8-11 As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

Yes, Lord, lift us to safety. Bring us this one last baby you have placed in our hearts, and place him in our arms. Continue to do unsearchable, marvelous things in our lives.

So, the logistics… we know in some ways it will be harder to go through such a high risk pregnancy again because we now have three children to take care of during all the treatments, appointments, procedures and sickness. We asked the boys a few months ago if they were willing to go through all of that again for another baby in the family…our last little brother or sister. We reminded them that Mommy would be very sick and would be gone to appointments a lot. We reminded them that the baby could die just like Lucy or the baby could live just like Nora, but we don’t know which it will be yet. We told them that Mommy might have to move to Houston for a few months and we would miss each other so much. If they had not been on board with the idea we would have reconsidered because they will have to make sacrifices for this next baby to get here safely, and they will take the risk of having their little hearts shattered again. Josh and I were surprised at how quickly both boys jumped up and down and shouted “Yes!” and “Please have another baby Mommy!” and they were on board with all of it. Asher even begged for me to have two or three more babies and I told him is wasn’t happening, but maybe we could try for one more. Our families are supportive and willing to help us through the pregnancy again, which we are so incredibly thankful for. We couldn’t have made it through our last pregnancy without them. My mom even said she would be willing to move to Houston again if we had to. We have an amazing, supportive church family and sweet friends who are encouraging and helpful too, so we feel as ready as we ever will be.

We met with a new MFM in Atlanta who was actually trained by Dr. Moise. His name is Dr. Thomas Trevett and he is experienced with isoimmunization/alloimmunization. He even won an award for the work he did developing the use of phenobarbital at the end of the pregnancy to help babies with HDN avoid blood transfusions and high bilirubin after birth. I took phenobarbital the last ten days of my pregnancy with Nora and I truly believe it is one of the reasons why she didn’t struggle with bilirubin after she was born and didn’t have to stay in the NICU. Josh and I met with Dr. Trevett at the beginning of January for a preconception appointment to discuss a future pregnancy and to see if he was even willing to take me on. My case is risky and the treatments will be pretty extreme so I would totally understand if an MFM was hesitant to accept me as a patient. He was so great. He understood everything about anti-kell antibodies and he follows Dr Moise’s protocols already. His course of treatment for me was the same one I had decided on already and very similar to what we did to save Nora. Dr. Trevett and I decided to start the treatments a little earlier than we did with Nora. During my pregnancy with Nora we had to struggle with the insurance company for a while to get them to cover the plasmapheresis and IVIG so the treatments were started a week or two later than I would have liked. I started plasmapheresis at 11 weeks and IVIG at 12 weeks in my last pregnancy and Dr Trevett will start them a week or two earlier with my next pregnancy, just to be extra proactive. Dr. Moise and Dr. Trevett have agreed to collaborate together for my care, which I appreciate so much. If the baby needs an early IUT before 20 weeks I will go to Houston to be treated by Dr. Moise, who has more experience doing early IUTs. If the baby doesn’t need an IUT until later in the pregnancy Dr Trevett will do the IUTs. The main reason we are using both doctors is because Atlanta is about a four hour drive from us and Houston is about an eleven hour drive. It would be much easier for me to take care of my three kids if I didn’t have to relocate to Houston for the whole pregnancy. We are still praying that God would give us a kell negative baby so that the baby could be safe from my antibodies. Supposedly, each baby of ours has a 50% chance of being kell positive or kell negative. BUT we know for sure that Asher, Lucy and Nora are all kell positive and Liam might be, so for some reason Josh’s genes seem to dominate. Maybe this will finally be our kell negative baby?

Please join us in praying for our future baby, that (s)he would be kell negative and would be born healthy. Please pray that Nora would get to be a big sister and have a sibling close in age. She would LOVE to have a real baby to take care of and boss around!

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